No Equipment Back Exercises:
The following are some of the most common no equipment back exercises. These are all great options if you don’t have access to any kind of barbell or dumbbells. You could always use a kettle bell, but it would be better if you had a partner to do these with you!
1) Face Pulls:
Face pulls are one of the best no equipment back exercises. They require little skill and are very effective. There’s nothing complicated about them, they’re just simple face pulling movements done from different angles. Here’s how to perform face pulls:
Lie down on your stomach with your head between your legs and elbows bent at 90 degrees (this position will be called “supine” in the rest of this article). Your feet should be positioned so that your toes point straight ahead and your heels are pointed slightly inward. If you have trouble keeping your knees straight, you can place a strap around the top of each knee to keep them from rounding. Keeping both hands flat on the floor, pull yourself up until your chin touches the ceiling.
Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with opposite arm. After a few sets, switch sides so that you’re pulling yourself up with your right arm and then your left.
2) Dead Lifts:
This is another no equipment back exercise that works exceptionally well for building a strong back. While it seems like an exercise that would only train your legs, dead lifts are actually great for training your back as well, especially when you do them properly. Here’s how to do the dead lift properly:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bend forward from the waist and grasp the bar so that your hands are about shoulder width apart. Keeping your back as straight as you can, pull the bar up off the floor until it reaches your knees. Hold for a second and squeeze your back, then slowly lower the bar back to the floor.
Pull-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises that target your lat muscles (the large muscles that run down the center of your back). While chin-ups and lat pulldowns are both good lat exercises, nothing beats the simplicity and effectiveness of the classic pull-up.
While many people are put off by the difficulty of doing a pull-up, it is actually one of the easier exercises to learn. A good tip for performing your first pull-up is to use a doorway chin-up bar and place your feet in the doorway. Using the door frame as leverage will make the exercise much easier and give you a better chance of completing at least one full repetition. After you can do one full chin-up, you can remove your feet from the doorway and try doing the exercise with no help at all.
If you are interested, here is a link to a great Pull-Up Program created by the US Marines: (LINK REMOVED)
If you don’t have access to a chinning bar, I’ve seen people buy something called a “vertical jump trainer” that will do the same job. It’s basically a long strip of webbing with suction cups at each end that you place on a door frame, then grab the cups with your hands and perform the exercise as normal. I’m sure there are better ways you could use this, but that is the main purpose of the device.
3) Getting Started With Bodyweight Training
As you may have noticed when looking through the above routines, bodyweight training requires a lot of equipment. More specifically it requires a lot of different exercises that target every part of your body and this can add up to a huge cost in equipment.
The good news is that you can get away with just a pair of gymnastic rings and a suspension trainer (a.k.a. a TRX).
Gymnastic rings can be used in a wide range of exercises that target every part of your body. Of course, if you want to do things the cheap way then all you need are two trees and a rope or chain to exercise your way from head to toe.
I’ll quickly go through each option:
If you want to get the most out of your bodyweight training and don’t mind spending a little money, then gymnastic rings are a great option. Here is a list of just some of the exercises you can do:
The TRX is basically a set of gymnastic rings connected by a piece of webbing that is suspended by two adjustable straps. This allows you to quickly and easily change the distance between the rings to accommodate your training needs. For example, you might exercise your chest by putting your legs in a ‘V’ shape and bringing the rings close together. This would be a much deeper exercise for your chest than normal push-ups.
On the other hand, you can move the rings outwards to a wide ‘W’ shape and do tricep exercises.
The TRX is an incredibly versatile piece of exercise equipment that allows you to perform hundreds of different exercises. The only real downside is the price; the TRX can cost anywhere from $120-$200!
Here’s a great video from the manufacturer’s website that shows you some of the many exercise options: (LINK REMOVED)
Two Trees And A Rope:
If money is an issue, then all you need is two trees and a sturdy rope or chain. Of course, you’ll want to have a good knowledge of knots so you don’t kill yourself. I would recommend using a climbing rope rather than a chain as they are more flexible and will absorb some of the shock when you drop.
All you need to do is find two trees a little way apart (15-20 feet) and throw the rope over the highest branch of each tree. Tie the rope securely on each end. Make sure there is enough slack in the rope so that you can stand on solid ground, then reach the lowest point you want your exercises to be and tie it off again. This should give you a good range of motion when exercising.
Here is a video from the American Chemical Society that shows you how to tie the rope to each tree. (LINK REMOVED)
As for exercises, you can basically do every exercise you would do with the TRX except you won’t be able to do as many types of movements. For example, exercises where you pull yourself towards the rings are not possible with just two trees. This shouldn’t really be an issue though. You can still do a wide range of exercises for every single part of your body.
Here is a link to a guy that uses just trees and rope to exercise almost every day. (LINK REMOVED)
You can also make your own rings quite easily if you don’t want to spend money or don’t have the room to store the TRX. You just need some rings (linked to Amazon below). Next, you’ll need some rope or strong cord and 2 sticks. You can certainly make these out of tree branches but I found some cheap wooden poles at my local hardware store that work perfectly.
Just take the rope and wrap it around the tree a few times to create a loop that the ring can fit over. Be sure to make it big enough so that it won’t slip off when you put your full body weight on it.
The wooden poles are nice as they have holes in the top for you to put the rope through, making it easy to make them secure. You just wrap the cord around several times and tie a knot so it doesn’t slip.
You can find everything you need linked below. (LINK REMOVED)
TREE GYM: (LINK REMOVED)
When it comes to home made equipment, tree gyms are right up there with the TRX. The nice thing is that you can make one no matter how much room you have. All you need are a few trees and some rope.
Here’s a video that explains how to make one: (LINK REMOVED)
The great thing about this is that you can basically do hundreds of exercises with this thing. You can do chin-ups, hanging knee raises, shrugs, cardio… the list goes on and on.
You can also substitute different types of rope for the handles if climbing rope is too slippery or you don’t want to scratch yourself up.
Go to any hardware store and look for something that is strong, non-stretchy and has a diameter similar to climbing rope. Most hardware stores should have something suitable.
Sources & references used in this article:
Upper body strength: Helping kids win the battle by A Rupnow – Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 1985 – Taylor & Francis
The impact of a six-week upper body resistance-training program using arm bands versus body weight on upper body strength by E Brubaker – VAHPERD Journal, 2009 – go.gale.com
Why in the World Would You Sit While Exercising? by C Dionne – breakingmuscle.com
Body Leverage Training: No Equipment, No Problem by M Bracko – ptonthenet.com
Take a Break From Weights: How to Train Intuitively by C Stevens – breakingmuscle.com
Physical fitness characteristics that relate to Work Sample Test Battery performance in law enforcement recruits by RG Lockie, JJ Dawes, K Balfany, CE Gonzales… – International journal of …, 2018 – mdpi.com
Motion in the unstable cervical spine when transferring a patient positioned prone to a spine board by BP Conrad, DL Marchese… – Journal of athletic …, 2013 – meridian.allenpress.com
THE VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF PUSH-UPS AS A MEASURE OF UPPER BODY STRENGTH FOR 11-12 YEAR-OLD FEMALES. by M Fawcett, M DeBeliso – Journal of Fitness Research, 2014 – search.ebscohost.com
Effectiveness of lift-assisted training in developing upper body strength in females by RM Brown – 1999 – digitalscholarship.unlv.edu